Ask Anne Marie: Some People I Know Use a Different Address for Lower Auto Insurance Rates. How Does This Affect the Rest of Us?

We frequently highlight auto insurance questions sent to our resident insurance expert, Anne Marie Thomas. From questions about G1 licence requirements to how to challenge an insurer’s fault determination decision for a collision, Anne Marie answers them all.

This week’s question is about using an address for your insurance that isn’t the address where you live. It comes to us from Terry, who asks:

“I work in a housing complex, and many of the tenants do not have their address properly listed on their insurance. I also know other people who use family addresses to get lower auto insurance rates. How does this type of thing affect what the rest of us pay for auto insurance?”

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Where a person lives is one of the factors that go into determining the auto insurance rate that person will pay. And not being truthful about where you live to your insurer will likely come back to cause problems later, explains Anne Marie.

“Giving an auto insurance provider an address that is different from where a person lives, and where their vehicle is garaged and regularly driven, is at worst, insurance fraud, and at best, misrepresentation.

In either scenario, the situation is grounds for the insurer to cancel the policy when discovered. And, if the discovery is due to an insurance claim, the claim is sure to be denied as well. There are serious financial repercussions for not being wholly truthful. Not only could any claim be denied, leaving the vehicle’s owner to foot the bill for repairs and whatnot, but having a cancellation will result in considerably higher premiums for at least three years.

All insurance fraud ends up costing other drivers more for their coverage. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that fraud costs every Ontario policyholder about $236 a year.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, low mortgage rates and the freedom of remote work have fuelled the real estate market for homebuyers and renters. This address shuffle has also spurred an increase in auto insurance rate evasion, whether intentional or accidental.

Over the last year, Aviva Canada data suggests a 7% increase in address misrepresentation claims nationally compared to pre-COVID times (April 2019-March 2020). In Ontario, that number jumps to 9.1%.

If changing your address has slipped your mind, heed the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA)’s warning. Customers who misrepresent their primary address could have their coverage invalidated or cancelled altogether. Not only that, but customers could also pay higher premiums or be denied insurance in the future.